Launch of the Democracy Video Challenge

Judith A. McHale
Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs 
United Nations
New York City, NY
September 15, 2009

(As prepared for delivery)

Thank you, Richard (Engel). Welcome distinguished guests from the diplomatic corps, our partners, invited guests and the media. I am delighted to be here today at the United Nations to help celebrate the launch of the second annual Democracy Video Challenge, during the International Day of Democracy.

As Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon said during the first International Day of Democracy, “experience has taught us, time and again, that democracy is essential to achieving our fundamental goals of peace, human rights and development.”

President Obama and Secretary Clinton have both underscored the importance of democracy as well as engaging with others to listen to their thoughts and ideas. The Democracy Video Challenge helps accomplish both of these goals. The Challenge asks people around the world to create a short video that completes the phrase, “Democracy is….” It also provides a platform for individual voices to be heard worldwide. We in the State Department and our partners have designed the Challenge to provide people around the world with the opportunity to express their views and to define democracy in their own terms.

We are delighted with results from last year. We received over 900 submissions from 95 countries. Thousands of people voted for their favorites and selected the six winners. Hundreds of thousands have either viewed the videos or engaged in parallel conversations on Facebook and other platforms to discuss these videos and other aspects of democracy. Our hope for this year’s contest is that we will receive an even larger response both in terms of submissions and the number of participating countries and generate robust conversations about democracy.

I know that I speak for all of our distinguished partners when I say that we think there is no better way to celebrate democracy around the world than to engage in a project that makes visible the fruits of the democratic experience. And we can think of no better way to conduct the challenge than online, a fundamentally democratic medium. Thank you.